Category Archives: NBCC National Board for Certified Counselors

The Trouble With the CACREP-Only Counselor Movement

A lot of people are wondering what the fuss is about professional counseling moving to CACREP accreditation standards, especially since organizations like the ACA, AMHCA, ACES, and NBCC are promoting this move.

Therein lies the first problem: COMPLEXITY (and acronyms)

A whole post could be written about just the players and organizations involved. (CACREP = Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, ACA = American Counseling Association, AMHCA = mental health counseling division of ACA, ACES = counselor education division of ACA, NBCC = National Board of Certified Counselors which handles national testing and increasingly looks like an ACA rival). Then we could badly use a dictionary of terms… then a history lesson… then a paper on each of the problems outlined below…

Busy counselors don’t want to sort through this complexity.

 

The second problem: BOREDOM (and perceived irrelevance)

The CACREP accreditation issue is usually described as a new standard for graduate schools to adhere to. Yawn. If you graduated 10 years ago and work seeing clients, an academic discussion on standards puts you to sleep. Nowhere in the usual discussions of this issue is there a suggestion that your FUTURE CAREER may be affected.

 

The third problem: ASSURANCES

If you have listened at all to the ACA and other advocates, you have been told that this won’t effect those currently licensed, that ACA will advocate for your equality, and that its all for “great reasons” (see below). Official associations keep on speaking ever so carefully so as to not quite lie, while giving the impression all is well.

 

So, in a nutshell (or as short as we can make it), what are the fastest descriptions possible of the problems with a CACREP-Only approach?

CACREP-ONLY: There are other styles of training and other emerging standards. Few people are rallying against the CACREP accreditation standard itself as an optional accreditation. It’s the implications of only having CACREP that is the problem.

FUTURE EMPLOYMENT: Graduation from a CACREP-accredited program in the past increasingly makes a difference in your ability to get a future job. TRICARE and the VA both prefer or require CACREP degrees. CACREP-Only partisans are working very hard to get CACREP mentioned in any Medicare regulations passed to allow professional counselors to accept Medicare. The fewer panels are willing to accept you, the harder it will be to make a living or get hired by employers. (This is why being able to keep your license is not enough. CACREP graduation or CACREP-influenced certifications may also be required.)

MEDICARE – THE GATEWAY: Private insurance companies often set their policies by what Medicare does. This is why we are so worried about CACREP-Only language getting into Medicare.

REPUTATION: The ACA’s official policy is now to lobby all 50 state Boards for CACREP-Only licensure. ACA goes to pains to say they will support the equality of currently licensed non-CACREP counselors. We hope so. How does one get a message of equality out to government, health plans, and the general public in the middle of persuading state Boards that CACREP is the “gold standard” that must be switched to? A DoD official was interviewed last year to discuss TRICARE’s two-tier policy in which certain (mostly CACREP) counselors are allowed independent practice, whereas non-CACREP counselors (otherwise independently licensed) are judged in need of doctor supervision. This kind of messaging will work its way into the public mind.

LOSS OF DIVERSITY: The problem with too rigid a standard is that you can lose some diversity. There are hundreds or thousands of approaches to counseling. Some arguments have been made that special communities (American Natives, disabled counselors-in-training) may be better served by alternatives.

BASIC FAIRNESS, “COUNSELING PSYCHOLOGISTS” AND VENGENCE VENDETTAS: CACREP-Only partisans are dead-set on excluding future students with master’s degrees in counseling psychology from obtaining professional counselor licenses (after a grandfathering period for current students). These programs have been with counseling since its inception. CACREP won’t even accredit these programs unless they make arbitrary changes requiring absurd expense and turn-over of core staff – its closer to truth to just say that CACREP won’t accredit them (see that part about not quite lying in assurances section above). There is a constant campaign to conflate and confuse in the public mind professional counselors holding master’s degrees in counseling psychology (who identify as professional counselors) with Ph.D. psychologists who have psychologist licenses. The two are not the same. More than a few commentators have opined that at one level the intractability of this dispute is about vengeance. The Ph.D. counselor educators are not allowed to teach in Ph.D. psychology programs. They are trying to push Ph.D. counseling psychologists out of their traditional role in teaching master’s level professional counselors (at “counseling psychology” masters programs). This is in part a war between two feuding groups of professors.

CONSOLIDATION OF CONTROL AND MONEY: At another level this may also be about money and control. The ACA helped create CACREP a long time ago, and now does not have official control over standards. CACREP partisans are also persuading state licensing boards to give-up control of their standards to this outside entity. CACREP charges a lot of money to programs wishing to obtain and maintain accreditation. NBCC controls at least two key gateways to the professional counseling career: national exams and national certifications. Currently no one is fighting over their control of the NCE and NCMHCE exams (unless they restrict taking them to only CACREP students…). They also control the NCC (National Certified Counselor) and CCMHC (Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor) certifications. These certifications are currently of questionable value, but NBCC is working hard to get these certifications required for licensure portability between states, as a stepping stone to independent TRICARE provider status, and more (See Portability below). It costs MONEY and lots of it to maintain certifications in addition to your state license.

PORTABILITY: There are currently conflicting proposed plans from NBCC/AMHCA/ACES and from AASCB (American Association of State Counseling Boards) for licensure portability when counselors move between states. The NBCC/AMHCA/ACES plan requires CACREP graduation to move between states unless a stubborn state board goes its own way or unless current non-CACREP counselors obtain and hold the NCC certification before 2022 (at which point CACREP graduation is required for the NCC). This is one example where NBCC can make millions of dollars from non-CACREP counselors by requiring them to grab an NCC certification while they can if they ever wish to work in another state in the future.

“GREAT REASONS” FOR THE “GOLD STANDARD”: Here are the most prominently mentioned reasons for moving to CACREP-Only:

So far here is what we’ve gleaned from CACREP-Only partisans as to reasons for CACREP-Only:

  1. Obligation to our forefathers. One CACREP-Only inclined historian states “We have an obligation to all of our forefathers/mothers and mentors to be good/honest stewards of the history of Professional Counseling. Please see that we pass on our family’s story.” (This sort of invites you to join a shared destiny and unity in which it is glorious to kick dozens of excellent graduate schools out of existence, destroy professional diversity, and cede immense power and money to organizations like CACREP and NBCC that are far less accountable to members than the ACA with its elections system.)
  2. Only immersion in a CACREP program can impart the correct spirit of shared IDENTITY and UNITY. (No training after-the-fact short of redoing graduate school will give this mystic feeling and purpose. We’ve never managed to get a definition of what this IDENTITY is, other than being told to read the 20/20 vision statement again (hint: nope, that does not solve it). UNITY if you are them we suppose.)
  3. Quality (Which, when challenged, results in vague mutterings about testing and program inspection standards… then reference to really flawed studies about NBCC tests being passed at higher percentage by CACREP students.)
  4. Counseling psychology master’s programs have more reliance on testing and the medical model. (If true, is that a problem?)
  5. Control of the standards of our own profession. (Because master’s in counseling psychology are somehow not our own profession…?)
  6. The government demands one standard. (It’s murky as to whether or not perhaps the government was first advised as to what standard it ought to ask for… Also – the “one standard” could so easily have been two (nursing has a few accreditation bodies) or have been a national certification allowing counselors from several backgrounds to attain the certification after demonstrating competence.)
  7. The IOM Study recommendations (Which some of us have described at some length as flawed.)

This letter is envisioned as something of a 101 primer. Problem is, this is such a complex topic that it will surely need revision and expansion almost as soon as its published. Consider this a draft.

 

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

At the immediate moment – BE LOUD. Participate in this Linked-In Group, on the Concerned Counselors listserv (see www.concernedcounselors.org), on ACA Connect Open Forum, and on CESNET. Plans will shortly be announced for a new national association dedicated to fighting the CACREP-Only injustice.

Two Competing Licensure Portability Plans

A curious thing happened late this summer – two competing plans for licensure portability emerged.  This is a long post, but make sure you also get to the 2nd plan below from AASCB.

AMHCA-ACES-NBCC Portability Standards for Counselors
(link to actual plan document)

This first one is bad.  It is a joint plan by AMHCA, ACES, and NBCC which calls for:

EITHER

• A degree from a clinically focused counselor preparation program accredited by CACREP;
OR
• Certification as a National Certified Counselor;
OR
• Fulfillment of standards adopted by a state counseling licensure board;

AND

• Possession of a counselor license for independent practice for at least two years.

The problem here is that NBCC has indicated that the NCC certification will require a CACREP degree for new applicants after 2022.  So while this plan gives a grandfathering period for all of us non-CACREP counselors to go grab and hold an NCC certification for life,  it very much fits with the CACREP-Only stance.  There does appear to be an exception there for state boards which don’t take their obvious suggestion that CACREP should be involved and instead set their own standards.

This plan also represents a financial bonanza for NBCC.  Non-CACREP counselors – if they ever want to be able to move out-of-state – are going to flock to grab the NCC credential right now while they still can.

Think about the money involved…  Some non-CACREP counselors may need to take another exam.  We are not sure what the original application cost is.  A 2014 newsletter said that annual maintenance fees were $80 per year.  Then of course NBCC sponsors and approves many of the CEU courses necessary for maintaining NCC status, but we won’t count that money…

Let’s do a little bit of back-of-the-envelope calculating although certainly the figures will be off.  Let’s assume:

  • This plan succeeds exactly as written (we’ll see)
  • 56,000 ACA members (although not all counselors are ACA members)
  • 70% are non-CACREP
  • 50% of the non-CACREP folks decide to maintain NCC status in case they ever need to move anywhere in their lifetimes.
  • We magically assume that all of these folks will work another 20 years so they all keep their NCCs for 20 years.

56,000 ACA members X .7 non-CACREP X .5 elect NCC status X $80 X 20 years = $31,360,000

This number is bogus of course, but however you calculate this, NBCC will make a fortune.

On a per person basis (assuming fees never rise) that is:

1 person X $80 X 20 years = $1600

This essentially amounts to extra money these folks would not have had to pay at all, except that NBCC participated in the CACREP-only enterprise of making their non-CACREP degrees second-rate, and then charged this membership fee so that at least these non-CACREP counselors could move around the country.

If they can get a job.  And take insurance and government programs.  And work around TRICARE, the VA, maybe Medicare, etc.  Good luck.

But – if they can make a living – perhaps in time they will appreciate their NCC membership as NBCC continues to offer more and more services that make NBCC nearly indistinguishable from ACA, minus some of the democracy and elected positions.

AASCB (American Association of State Counseling Boards)
(link to actual plan document)

The American Association of State Counseling Boards is what it sounds like – the place where all the state boards in charge of professional counselor licensing get together to hash out high-level issues, such as licensure portability.

Many of the state boards are resistant to the CACREP-Only cry.  Many states have lots of counseling psychology masters programs and/or few CACREP programs.  Others are worried about having enough counselors to serve their population, basic fairness in the profession, or other concerns.

On the other hand, CACREP and NBCC and ACA are all over their annual convention with money, presentations, and officers present.  CACREP and NBCC regularly sponsor events and underwrite costs.  This does not imply undue influence, but does illustrate some of the CACREP-Only pressures this organization is under.

The AASCB has tried to come up with a core set of requirements for years for counselors to be able to port their licenses from state-to-state.  They have finally hit upon an elegantly simple plan:

A fully-licensed counselor, who is licensed at the highest level of licensure available in his or her state, and who is in good standing with his or her licensure board, with no disciplinary record, and who has been in active practice for a minimum of five years post-receipt of licensure, and who has taken and passed the NCE or the NCMHCE, shall be eligible for licensure in a state to which he or she is establishing residence. The state to which the licensed counselor is moving may require a jurisprudence examination based on the rules and statutes of said state. An applicant who meets these criteria will be accepted for licensure without further review of education, supervision and experiential hours.

Furthermore “AASCB is open to research supporting a shorter time period if the research indicates no difference in disciplinary issues with those licensees who have less experience.”

This plan has several benefits, not least of which is that the plan does not mention CACREP by name and is much more inclusive.  Also:

1. It leaves more power to the states to determine what their needs are.

2. It does not tie state governments to the dictates of one outside body (CACREP) with whom they may or may not agree in the future.

3. It places more value and respect with counselor experience than with only the accreditation of the degree obtained.

4. It does not require multiple millions of dollars to be funneled into NBCC by non-CACREP counselors holding onto NCC status in order to have license portability.

In our humble opinion, it suggests that AASCB may not be entirely sold on CACREP and only CACREP as in the best interests of the profession and the public at large.

Please look for every opportunity to support the AASCB plan, including writing letters of support to their Board.

Two Important Letters You Need to Write Now to ACA Governing Council & the AASCB Board

Hi All,

There are two letters that I am going to ask you to write.  I’m also asking that, given the nature of these letters, we be especially polite (more so than I often am).  I know we are all angry – and often that anger is what gets officials to pay attention.  But not this time.

When you write a letter, please consider sharing it – either to our listserv or to inquiries@concernedcounselors.org .  Letters sent to Concerned Counselors may be reposted on the concernedcounselors.org website.

For those feeling adventurous, it would be very useful if you also post your letters to ACA Open Forum and CESNET as well.

Both of these letters need to be fairly unique to have impact.  That is, we are not going to provide talking points.  Talking points help tremendously with getting a primary message across, but these need to be unique from you and from the heart.

During the Virginia regulatory comment period over *300*(!) of you wrote to express displeasure with the CACREP-Only proposed regulations.  Which was awesome, but being the busy professionals that we are, a number of the comments were exact cut and paste from the talking points.  This was especially true also for letters to Congress this past summer in support of less restrictive TRICARE regulations (and thank you – hundreds of these also came in).

So what we are asking for are well-crafted, painfully polite, fully fleshed-out, profession letters with your credentials laid out (and bonus points if on letterhead).

***#1***

The first letter is to the individual members of the ACA Governing Council.  Yes, these are the folks who just passed all of those CACREP-Only policies, announced that ACA will be lobbying all 50 state Boards to go CACREP-Only in licensing, and announced that ACA will only support CACREP accreditation even after the MCAC accreditation alternative is approved by CHEA. (See http://www.counseling.org/knowledge-center/faqs-licensure-policies )

The thing is, many of the ACA Governing Council members are surprisingly NOT up on the politics of CACREP-Only.  Others have only been fed the CACREP party line for months.  Still others may have been pressured or surprised by the recent resolution votes.  It was not long ago that the Governing Council passed resolutions in support of ALL counselors.

We are told that many on the Governing Council voted AGAINST the CACREP-Only policies.  Several others may be persuaded to reverse course.

Please write the following Governing Council members and tell them how CACREP-Only policies will hurt currently licensed counselors, why it’s a mistake to jettison counseling psychology master’s programs, how you personally are effected, and any verifiable facts about the situation in your state that they are unlikely to be aware of:

ACA GOVERNING COUNCIL:

Thelma.duffey@utsa.edu, croland@thechicagoschool.edu, Robert.Smith@tamucc.edu, Elias.zambrano@utsa.edu, ttd_1@msn.com, RYep@counseling.org, dtgibmac@aol.com, suzdegges@yahoo.com, dee.ray@unt.edu, shane.haberstroh@utsa.edu, pfrancis@emich.edu, mperepiczka@gmail.com, mkocet@yahoo.com, skbutler@ucf.edu, sgiunta@troy.edu, pdunlap@wayne.edu, alan.burkard@marquette.edu, lisa.jackson-cherry@marymount.edu, nmmerchant@stcloudstate.edu, judydaniels@gmail.com, simone.lambert@gmail.com, bret.hendricks@ttu.edu, ssees1@msn.com, dosborn@fsu.edu, sepressman@aol.com, Christopher.Roseman@utoledo.edu, tmitchell@breweredu.org, mwallace@jsu.edu, dianapals@hotmail.com, ricshawnadkins@hotmail.com

***#2***

The American Association of State Counseling Boards (AASCB) came out recently with a wonderfully inclusive plan for licensure portability that would protect many non-CACREP counselors.  See http://www.aascb.org/aws/AASCB/pt/sd/news_article/110786/_PARENT/layout_details/false

Furthermore, they published this plan directly after the horrible “portability” plan was announced from AMHCA, ACES, and NBCC (http://www.nbcc.org/assets/eblast/AMHCA-ACES-NBCC_Portability_Plan.pdf ).

The president of AASCB, Karen Enegess, is under some pressure from members of their Board to adopt a harder line in favor of CACREP-Only policies.  (In other news, CACREP has spent generously in support of AASCB conference events for many years, and last year even held a large CACREP meeting  in the same hotel concurrently with the AASCB conference.)

What we need are letters thanking Karen Enegess and the AASCB Board for their license portability plan and outlining how much it will help all counselors.  This would also be a good time to insert a bit about how much CACREP-Only policies will hurt both licensed counselors and the public served by their state board members.

AASCB BOARD:

kenegess@gmail.com, sushammonds@bellsouth.net, susan@2liferesources.com, erik_oo@yahoo.com, mmgu2@aol.com, lpcboard@eatel.net, info@aascb.org,

 

Pitfalls of Grandfathering in the New ACA Governing Council Plan

[Those who have not seen the ACA Governing Council meeting minutes endorsing CACREP-Only can find them here.]

We received the following excellent question back-channel from a concerned counselor:

“I read your ACA post with alarm this morning…  Maybe you can clarify a question: What would this ruling mean for someone like me, who has been licensed with an LPC since 1999, from a non CACREP school?.  Would I automatically be grandfathered in, or will I have to make up for any possible deficiencies with my school program, by 2020?”

Good question.  What it will MOST LIKELY mean, is that you will be grandfathered-in and not have to do any further training (not have to make up “deficiencies”).

We remain very alarmed because such a probable outcome does not mean those grandfathered-in are safe.  We just won’t know until events are gradually done to us over the years.

ACA is claiming in the governing council motions that non-CACREP counselors will be treated equally.  I hope so.

In a few of our recent postings we have pointed out instances of prominent CACREP-only communications defaming or at least indirectly implying inferiority of non-CACREP counselors.  This is a message that state boards, Congress, and the general public are being bombarded with.

In order for those grandfathered to remain equal and have fully empowered future careers the following needs to happen:

  • State licensing boards need to adopt the recommended grandfathering provisions exactly, and not something harsher. (Don’t forget they are getting the messaging that we are inferior.)
  •  State licensing boards requiring some sort of alternative licensing procedure for non-CACREP counselors need to NOT adopt requirements so gosh darn exact to CACREP that those non-CACREP counselors going through the procedure would have to redo training for trivial reasons (like redo internships because they were not broken into two components instead of one for example).
  • Portability between states would need to be possible for non-CACREP counselors, as opposed to us being stuck in the state where we managed to get grandfathered before 2020 or whenever.
  • AMHCA and other parties need to immediately quit efforts to get TRICARE, the VA, Medicare, and who knows what other government programs and insurance panels to adopt CACREP-only paneling standards.  If the squeeze is being put on non-CACREP counselors at the state licensing level (ACA wants CACREP-only after 2020 in state licensing) then approval for a state license needs to be the final standard for participating in Federal and other programs.  Having a state license is not very helpful if the non-CACREP counselor then gets blocked from TRICARE, VA, and maybe Medicare or elsewhere.  It’s not true grandfathering if your license is second-rate.
  • The messaging of non-CACREP is inferior needs to stop.  It will be increasingly impossible to control the fallout.  Who can blame the general public, Congress, state licensing boards, private insurance panels, etc. if they adopt less-than-enlightened policies to exclude non-CACREP counselors if they truly believe such to be inferior?  This will shortly no longer be under the control of our professional associations as the messaging will result in independent actions in the world-at-large.
  • Medicare (when we finally get authorization for it) needs to NOT have any CACREP-only language in it.  Private insurance companies often mimic Medicare standards.  This is truly what could kill non-CACREP counselors.  Imagine being a non-CACREP counselor 5-10 years from now and being stuck in one state (although you need to move) and only being able to take 1 or 2 remaining insurance panels while all of your CACREP peers are able to take all insurance panels, TRICARE, and Medicare.
  • If the nightmare of private insurance companies and Medicare having CACREP-only regulations does materialize, then non-CACREP counselors better become really good at solo private practice because employers will be hiring CACREP counselors even if we still have state licenses.

We can’t swear all of this dooms day stuff will happen.  But it’s not rocket science to see how it reasonably could.  Especially with “our” professional associations actively working against us.

Let’s also not forget about the dozens and dozens of master’s programs in counseling psychology being actively hounded out of existence.  Such is not okay and does not serve the “profession” (whatever that means anymore) and certainly does not serve the mental health needs of the public.  NBCC’s offer to help “counseling psychologists” (their term for master’s level counseling psychology graduates after 2020) get licensing from scratch in all 50 states is an absurd atrocity that would be amusing if it was not so sad.

Killeen Texas Daily Herald Story on TRICARE Counselors

A sincere thank you to military editor Rose Thayer for running the following piece in the Killeen Daily Herald today:

Off-post counselors await Tricare policy decision

There are so few news segments on the impending TRICARE disaster, so I appreciate her interest and efforts to warn the public.

I think I begin to see why there is so little interest in this big news story…  A causal reader who browses the above article could be forgiven for walking away thinking that this is no big deal.  After all, the Defense Health Agency is just trying to balance quality with accessibility, and only 29% of counselors are ineligible for the new TRICARE rules anyway, and even those 29% have an open-ended opportunity to grandfather into the new rules…

**NO**    **LETS TRY AGAIN**

If DHA and CACREP gave Ms. Thayer the statistics as stated knowing that they were for an article on TRICARE counseling, then they were extraordinarily misleading. Perhaps this is not how it came about.

We speculate — if these are the sorts of factoids given to reporters when they inquire on this topic, no wonder there is so little alarm over this issue.

How’s a well-meaning reporter to know that they have to take all the “facts” given to them with such a large dose of skepticism?

The DHA quote in the article talks about balancing quality versus accessibility.  This indirectly implies a lack of quality amongst CACREP unaffiliated counselors.  There have been no creditable studies showing that CACREP graduates perform better counseling.  Many quality schools – some of them ivy league – are not CACREP accredited .  In the northeast these non-CACREP programs include Harvard, Columbia, George Mason, Seton Hall, and (until recently) Johns Hopkins.

CACREP’s oft-repeated factoid about 640/650 programs being CACREP accredited is incredibly misleading.  This number includes school counseling and other counseling programs that **DO NOT QUALIFY FOR TRICARE**.  There are only 120 or 121 Clinical Mental Health Counseling Programs in the country that are CACREP-accredited.  These are the ONLY ones whose graduates will be qualified to serve Tricare beneficiaries.  Most accredited mental health programs are located in the South or North Central regions of the country.  All of New England has only EIGHT such programs.  The regulation will create “therapy deserts” where Tricare patients simply cannot find a qualifying mental health counselor.  Now it is the case that other similar professions (psychologists, social workers) can partially fill these service gaps, but this remains a ridiculous obstacle to veterans and their families getting the mental health care that they need.

There is a quote in this story that “the policy does allow for providers to be grandfathered in if they didn’t graduate from an accredited program.”  This is true as far as it goes…  If a counselor is lucky, he/she can take the NCMHCE exam before the end of the year to be grandfathered in.  However, this is problematic…  Some counselors have been told that they have to meet CACREP-like standards before they can sit for the NCMHCE exam (I’m told NBCC has very recently changed this).  Some regions are requiring counselors to sign a statement that they completed all of their hours of supervised practice prior to licensure under the supervision of a professional counselor or counselor educator (as opposed to a psychologist, social worker, or other licensed mental health professional).  Almost NO counselors who have been in the field more than a few years conducted their internships under another counselor – when the profession was new almost everyone had a psychologist or social worker as a supervisor.  So – hard as it is to believe – there is no grandfathering redress available for many counselors despite the show of such.  No, it does not make sense.  A psychologist makes for a fine training supervisor.

We are simply stunned by the following quote:

“According to CACREP, a random sample of licensed and nonlicensed counselors used in the 2010 National Counseling Examination job analysis study showed that 71 percent of counselors are CACREP graduates. Of the remaining participants, 17 percent indicated they graduated from a nonCACREP program and 12 percent reported they earned a degree before CACREP was formed in 1981.”

Please tell us that this material was not really given by CACREP as an answer to how the supply of counselors would be effected for TRICARE counseling?

Our best conservative estimates are that approaching 70% of counselors ARE NOT from CACREP programs:

~ In Mass there are roughly 5200 LMHCs (their version of professional counselors), estimated +/- 4% being from CACREP programs. Only two of 19 programs in Mass are CACREP accredited.

~ CACREP itself says over 640 approved programs exist.  Only 121 (about a fifth) are Clinical Mental Health Counseling programs that would meet the proposed regulations of TRICARE.

~ ACA did a study citing that only 13% of New York counselors would meet TRICARE requirements.  They cited this in a letter to Jonathan Woodson.

There is no way that 71% of counselors are CACREP graduates.  Not even including school counselors, who would not be paneled for TRICARE anyway.

Are All the 2014 NBCC Foundation Scholars from CACREP Schools?

Some weeks ago we were wondering if the NBCC Foundation scholarships had a CACREP requirement.  When we asked a NBCC customer service representative, we could not get a clear answer.

If NBCC scholarships were restricted in this way, it would raise a question of fairness, since one group of counselors would be receiving preferential treatment over another. NBCC, like ACA, is a counseling organization that includes members of many counseling backgrounds, both CACREP and CACREP-unaffiliated, who loyally contribute dues each year unaware of any differential treatment of students from their alma maters.

The NBCC Perspective column (pages 64-65) of this month’s June 2014 Counseling Today seems to answer our question.

EVERY SINGLE 2014 WINNER IS FROM A CACREP SCHOOL

When we searched the NBCC website for specific criteria, we found that its preferential treatment of CACREP students was not as subtle as we thought, but clearly articulated in the requirements for their scholarships. Here are the requirements for the minority scholarship, as an illustration:

Be enrolled in good standing in a master’s-level counseling program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Applicants must carry at least six credit hours during the current semester and have already completed at least 18 credit hours.

• Possess substantial experience with ethnically, culturally and racially diverse communities.

• Commit to providing counseling services to underserved or minority populations for at least two years after graduation.

• Commit to applying for the National Certified Counselor (NCC) credential prior to graduation.

Obviously, NBCC is practicing preferential treatment toward one group of counseling students – those from CACREP schools — which is inconsistent with their mission as a neutral certification organization.

It is unfair and discriminatory for counseling students from CACREP-unaffiliated schools to be cast as political pawns, used to emphasize a perspective that is not unanimously held by our profession–that CACREP is the singular accrediting body. NBCC’s policy penalizes these students for their choice of graduate program, irrespective of whether they have other qualities such as minority status, economic disadvantage, or superior academic achievement that should recommend them for a NBCC scholarship.

This raises a series of interesting questions for us:

Since graduation from a CACREP-accredited program is currently not a requirement to sit for NBCC examinations, nor is it currently a requirement to become a mental health counselor in any state, why is NBCC using it as a primary criterion to select scholarship recipients? Is promoting CACREP accreditation more important than supporting counseling students who may be disadvantaged or members of minority groups?

Question: Why is NBCC offering scholarships only to CACREP students?

NBCC examinations are marketed to CACREP and CACREP-unaffiliated counselors alike for attaining national certification after their graduate training. In fact, CACREP-unaffiliated counselors wishing to continue as TRICARE providers are directed to take NBCC’s National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE), which leads to national certification as a mental health counselor.  All counselors take these exams, but only CACREP students are allowed to compete for scholarships offered by the organization.

Counseling students in both CACREP and CACREP unaffiliated schools regularly apply to become Nationally Certified Counselors, which involves a significant application fee and yearly dues to NBCC.  On one hand, NBCC supports students unaffiliated with CACREP by providing this pathway to the NCC.  Yet, it is concerning that NBCC accepts their dues (without regard to the accreditation of their school) but then channels its scholarship support to only those who are attending a CACREP school. Use of their fees for a political purpose that acts against their own interests violates an inherent trust that accompanies their affiliation with NBCC.

NBCC should be a neutral party, but it is clearly taking sides in a complex political issue within our profession.

NBCC’s partisanship also discounts the value of CACREP-unaffiliated schools, many of which are among the nation’s leading graduate programs, including a number at Ivy League and nationally ranked schools. Their students should be equally entitled to scholarship support from NBCC.

If NBCC is the impartial regulator of certification exams across our profession, and readily accepts dues from students and graduates of both CACREP and CACREP-unaffiliated programs, they must be politically neutral and stand above organizational politics. The Counseling profession deserves higher standards from those who purport to maintain our standards.

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We invite counselors and the public to take a closer look at the issues, sign-up to take action and receive newsletters and alerts, and to read the many documents in our document library outlining the lack of organizational leadership in appropriately addressing this crisis.  You can also find FAQs, the latest blog entries, proposed solutions, and more at http://www.concernedcounselors.org .

About The Coalition of Concerned Counselors (CCC): CCC is a growing confederation of individual counselors, client rights advocacy organizations, counseling associations, and professional graduate programs created in order to educate counselors and the public on the growing threat of CACREP restrictions on counseling practice.

About Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors of Maryland (LCPCM): LCPCM is a 501c6 advocacy organization for the rights of clients and the development and equity of professional counselors.

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